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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools administrators are considering closing more than 100 schools as the system faces declining enrollment and huge budget deficits.
Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said on Wednesday that 129 schools are now on that target list–or about 19 percent of the schools in the system. School administrators spared another 201 schools after receiving community feedback.
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CPS is targeting underutilized schools as a way to help close a huge $1 billion budget shortfall.
School administrators say nearly half of the system’s schools are underutilized.
Byrd-Bennett stressed that the list is still preliminary and that all 129 schools may not be closed.
The safety and security of students continues to a top priority.
“I will not close any school where I don’t have confidence that children will have a safe and smooth transition at welcoming schools next fall,” Byrd-Bennett said.
Currently, the district has space for over 511,000 students, but only 403,000 are enrolled in 681 schools. Nearly 140 schools are more than half empty.
“It’s painful and again I say it’s painful not only as a professional, but as a mom as a teacher, as a principal of schools that had been closed, and as a teacher, I get that. So where we are right now we’ve moved from 330 to 129 schools and I think that speaks to the process working.”
CPS will not be closing any high schools. Schools that meet a variety of criteria, including those that are high performing, Level 1 schools, schools in the process of increasing enrollment or with more than 600 students, will be exempt.
A variety of other issues, which can be viewed on the CPS website, will also be considered.